“Do you now without delay convey the news of my arrival to that one of immortal exploits, Rama, who is at once my father, brother and friend, and whose beloved servant I am. The eldest brother of one that is noble and cognizant of morality becomes his father. I shall take hold of his feet. He is now my refuge.” (Bharata speaking to Kaikeyi, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 72)
This is a scene from the Ramayana where Rama’s younger brother Bharata, has just returned from the kingdom of Kaikeya at the insistence of the brahmanas of Ayodhya. Maharaja Dashratha has just passed away due to the pain of separation from Rama. Bharata has just been informed of of the king’s death and he wants to seek out Rama.
This incident is very striking in that it gives us insights into the character of Bharata. Lord Krishna came to earth in human form many thousands of years ago in Ayodhya as Lord Rama. The eldest of four brothers, Rama was the beloved prince, the prized possession of King Dashratha. He was to succeed His father on the throne, but events took a dramatic twist just prior to the coronation. Dashratha had three wives, something not uncommon for kshatriya kings during that time. His youngest wife was Kaikeyi, Bharata’s mother. Upon hearing of Rama’s impending coronation, she became very jealous and demanded that Bharata become the new king instead. Dashratha on a previous occasion had granted Kaikeyi any two boons of her choosing, thus he could not deny this request. For her second boon, Kaikeyi asked for Rama’s banishment to the forest for fourteen years. Rama happily obliged and took His wife Sita Devi and younger brother Lakshmana with Him. The events that followed are described in famous epic, the Ramayana. The trio is still worshiped today along with Rama’s greatest devotee, Lord Hanuman.
Bharata is a person often overlooked. Soon after Rama left for the forest, Dashratha left his body, as was destined to happen due to a curse that was pronounced on him on a previous occasion. Since the the kingdom was without a leader, the head priests summoned Bharata and Shatrughna, Rama’s two other brothers who were away visiting Kaikeyi’s father. When Bharata returned to the kingdom, Kaikeyi was anxiously awaiting his coronation. She was very happy to see him, for she had put all these moves into place simply for his benefit. To her surprise and dismay, Bharata wasn’t at all pleased with what had happened. Upon hearing of the king’s death, Bharata immediately went searching for Rama. He boldly declared his love and devotion to his elder brother.
This is the nature of the devotee. Every one of us has certain talents or personality traits that we are proud of. We tend to base our identity off these traits. “I’m really good with computers. I’m a great tennis player. I love to watch movies. I’m a good family man.” Pure devotees however, relinquish all of their bodily traits and characteristics. They only identify themselves as servants of God. This is the proper relationship type between gurus and their disciples. The guru, or spiritual mater, is the bona fide representative of Krishna, or God. By humbly offering our service to the spiritual master and trying to please him to the best of our abilities, we in turn make God happy. The Lord is very pleased when we offer service to His servants. In fact, He behaved in a similar manner during His various incarnations.
When Krishna personally appeared on this planet and was living as a king in Dvaraka, He was visited by the venerable Narada Muni. Known as the triloka sanchari due to his constant travelling through the three worlds, Narada Muni is one of the greatest spiritual masters in history. He advised the great Vyasadeva as well as Maharishi Valmiki. When Krishna received Narada at His palace, He addressed the saint as bhagavan. Normally the word bhagavan is associated with God since it accurately describes His opulences. God’s original form and most complete feature is referred to as Bhagavan, which means the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
“Lord Krishna in Dvaraka enjoyed the pastimes of a perfect human being. When, therefore, He washed the feet of the sage Narada and took the water on His head, Narada did not object, knowing well that the Lord did so to teach everyone how to respect saintly persons. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, who is the original Narayana and eternal friend of all living entities, thus worshiped the sage Narada according to Vedic regulative principles. Welcoming him with sweet nectarean words, He addressed Narada as bhagavan, or one who is self-sufficient, possessing all kinds of knowledge, renunciation, strength, fame, beauty, and similar other opulences.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 14)
The Lord addressed Narada in such a way because the muni was very learned and a pure devotee. In this way, He taught us the proper etiquette to observe towards spiritual masters. We are to view the guru to be as good as God Himself since he is a bona fide representative. The spiritual master is often referred to as gurudeva, meaning he is god-like.
Bharata was even more advanced than an ordinary devotee since he had Rama as his elder brother. Upon returning to the kingdom, his only concern was the welfare of his family, and especially that of Rama and Dashratha. As soon as Rama wasn’t there, he immediately scanned the scene to find His whereabouts. He unhesitatingly decided to take refuge of Rama’s lotus feet.
This is the example for all of us to follow. We have many people in our lives that are worthy of our respect such as our parents, elderly family members, and teachers. Yet those relationships are meaningless if we don’t develop a love for God. Bharata was a perfect devotee, thus he possessed all good qualities. In this age, we can follow his lead and also take refuge of God’s lotus feet by chanting His holy names: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.
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